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Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Export stout perfect for a winter evening

February 5, 2014

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

Since this winter has been unusually cold, I would like to talk about an export stout I picked up during one of my outings to Woodman’s on Perryville Road. Woodman’s has an excellent liquor department that not only offers a very good selection of beer, but they also arguably have some of the best prices in the area.

Traditionally, British and Irish stouts had some characteristic differences because of their base ingredients and brewing traditions, but the export versions of each were similar. These export or “foreign” stouts were brewed strong for the export market and were formulated for specific geographic regions and climates. Export stout could be highly hopped, but the brewers relied on high alcohol content and a secondary fermentation in the cask or bottle rather than dry hopping to ensure that their product survived the long voyages. ABV (alcohol by volume) was in the 6 to 9 percent range, sometimes higher, depending on the market.

Summit Brewery of St. Paul, Minn., has been a longtime favorite brewery of mine. They have recently returned (to my joy) to the Rockford area after a short hiatus. They are the producers of Rebellion Stout, one of their limited-release Summit Union Series. This export stout is single-hopped with the new U.K. dwarf hop Boadicea, named after a Celtic queen who led the fight against the Romans. The recipe is an interpretation of a recipe from 1896, taken from the archives of an old Cork brewery.

Proper serving is in a stemmed tulip glass at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour is black, almost dark as night, with a moderate amount of bubbles. A solid one-finger-depth, tan-colored head fades into a thin, creamy layer. The aroma is dark and roasty with dark chocolate, coffee, slight fruitiness like plums and some hop in the initial smell. The first sip is a very roasty stout taste, similar to the aroma, with dark chocolate, coffee and the spicy Boadicea hops.

I like the hop character enough that I will try to secure some to use in one of my upcoming brew sessions. A small amount of sweetness develops, then fades quickly, finishing dry from the hops and roast malt.

Slight alcohol warmth is present at the end, no doubt because of the 8.5 percent ABV.

A medium to full creamy mouth feel invites you to take another drink. A nice lacing is produced on the glass from start to finish.

Very enjoyable, a good beer to hunker down with on a cold winter evening to watch a movie or read a book, preferably in front of a fireplace if you are lucky enough to have one! But alas, this is a limited release, and its return is uncertain at this time.

I suggest you seek this one out straight on, especially since the groundhog saw his shadow Sunday, and we will have six more weeks of winter. Prost!

Michael Sears is president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Sreet. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to http://forestcitybrewers.org. If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at rockfordcraftbeer@comcast.net.

From the Feb. 5-11, 2014, issue

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